Beijing November 18 2023: China has extended its 72-hour and 144-hour visa-free transit policies to visitors from 54 countries, with Norway being the latest addition, according to an official from the National Immigration Administration (NIA).
Visitors from these countries, including 40 in Europe, six in Asia and four in South America, can now travel or conduct business in permitted areas under the transit visa exemptions, said the NIA's Mao Xu at the China International Travel Mart 2023 in Kunming. China's daily report states this.
The 144-hour policy applies in 20 major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, while the 72-hour policy is in effect in Changsha, Harbin and Guilin.
"We encourage travel agencies at home and abroad to help more foreigners visit China under these policies," Xu said.
By end-October, foreign visitor numbers had rebounded robustly to 26.51 million since China optimized its COVID policies, he added.
The travel mart, themed "Nihao! China", attracted 892 representatives from 70 countries and regions. Held annually since 2001, except for three years due to the pandemic, the event saw participation from tourism ministries of eight countries and travel institutions globally.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said via video that the mart is the biggest such event in Asia, reflecting regional tourism growth. After visiting China post-COVID policy changes, he expects many more visitors to follow and explore the country under eased visa rules.
Georgian agency Caucasus Voyagers, attending for the fourth time, has flown in more Chinese tourists recently and plans to bring more Georgians to China, said manager Shalva Khutsishvili. "When people explore a country's nature and food, it brings two places together. Travel is key to uniting people, especially as we can travel again post-pandemic."